“The demographics are undeniable.” Latinos are the future of American sports, say industry leaders

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Some of professional sports’ top executives gathered in San Diego on Saturday to discuss the outsized importance of Latino fans and athletes, who they believe are critical to the industry’s future prosperity.

The message, presented with supporting data from the Boston Consulting Group and Ampere Analysis, was delivered during a morning panel on sports economics at The Attitude conference at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. The event, now in its fifth year, spotlights Latino business, innovation and consumers, and is expected to attract 6,000 attendees from across the country.

“When you compare the stats to the metrics, you see Latinos are leading the charts in every dimension,” said Daniel Acosta, senior partner at business strategy firm Boston Consulting Group, who cited research showing that fans sports Latinos spend 20% more, on an absolute basis, than non-Latinos. “They are the ideal sports fan.”

Acosta, who also sought to dispel the idea that Latinos are primarily football fans, helped spark a broader conversation about how the cohort’s ability to drive sales, as well as audience at the television and online, is forcing leaders to rethink everything from who they hire to how they market their teams.

Xavier Gutierrez, who is the CEO of the Arizona Coyotes Hockey Club, moderated the panel along with ESPN president of programming Burke Magnus, NBA agent Erika Ruiz and Phoenix Suns chief revenue officer Dan Costello.

“The reality is that Latinos, like every other industry in our economy, play sports,” Gutierrez told the crowd.

The former executive of a private investment firm says he was handpicked in 2020 to lead the professional hockey team by billionaire owner Alex Meruelo, despite not being able to skate ice cream. In his first board of governors meeting with team owners and league officials, Gutierrez said he used a hockey metaphor to explain his business plan to the commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman.

“Wayne Gretzky was the greatest hockey player in hockey history, and they asked his dad what made him so great. And he said, ‘Wayne, he’s going where the puck is going, not where it’s been,'” Gutierrez said. “So in the United States, where does the puck go? Latino.

Magnus, ESPN’s head of programming, echoed that sentiment.

“Our research … aligns with what (Acosta) just showed. In terms of fandom, the demographics are undeniable,” Magnus said. “For us to see a future of growth at ESPN, (we will) have to look at the Latin American cohort.”

ESPN, he added, needs to do a better job of putting more Latinos on camera.

“In our business, to attract an audience, people need to see people they identify with onscreen,” Magnus said, pointing to the network’s bilingual baseball reporter. Marly Rivera as the first example. “When I think of her, I say, ‘I want 10 more of her. “”

The comments elicited an immediate response, “Right here!”, from conference attendees. Marysol Castrowho is a reporter and sound announcer for the New York Mets.

“I wanted to get his attention, not for me specifically, but for him to learn for the first time, or to remember, that there are a lot of Latinos who are in the talent pool,” Castro said. at the Union-Tribune after the panel. “So the goal was a bit of shaming him, and a bit of, I’m glad you’re here and I hope you absorb that.”

The talent pool extends to potential female sports agents, Ruiz, the NBA’s first Latina agent, said during the panel.

“There is no pipeline issue,” Ruiz said. “I think there needs to be a change in mentality and leadership. There also needs to be an intent behind hiring Latinas into positions of power.

The Attitude continues on Sunday, headlined by a conversation with former President Barack Obama.

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